Thursday, April 20, 2017

Grumpy Reviews: Wires and Nerve, The Hemingses of Monticello, and My Life in Black and White

Are you ready for some grumpiness?  I have read three books recently (well, read two books and gave up on the third) that just didn't do it for me.

And as much as I kind of hate to be negative--I mean, I LOVE other books by the same author--I also know that it can be both entertaining and helpful to be told why someone didn't like a book.  So I'm going there.

(Let me also say that I've read a few spectacular books lately as well, but I'll talk about those another day.)

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer is a book I treated myself to after we took a crap-ton of books into Powell's and got a gift card in exchange.  I wanted to complete my Lunar Chronicles collection, and I loved the idea of a graphic novel, and that it would star Iko.

So this evening I sat down to read it and--blahness ensued.

The pictures are too cartoony and cute.  There's no grittiness in any of the characters, and very little glamor either.  The storyline seems desultory.  Iko herself does shine, but the other characters all feel flat and dull.

The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed is one of the first books I ever put on my Goodreads "to-read" shelf.  It sounded fascinating--a history of the enslaved family that was both owned by and in later generations fathered by Thomas Jefferson.  But it also sounded pretty serious and clocks in at over 600 pages, so I decided it would be a good candidate for listening to in the car.  After all, that's how I conquered both Columbine and Pillars of the Earth.  But after a few weeks, I had to give it up.  I feel like a bit of an asshole being the white blogger lady who couldn't get invested in this book, but it was just too dense and scholarly for me.  The author analyzes and argues minute point after minute point.  This is not a work of popular history.  It's worthy and well researched and all that, but it just doesn't make for fascinating reading/listening.

My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend
This one pisses me off the longer I think about it.  I'm just going to copy and paste my reactions from Goodreads here.

This is the kind of YA book that really isn't meant for adults to read. It's goes by quickly enough that you might not notice at the time, but for all that its heart is in the right place, there's a lot of problematic nonsense involved.

The premise--a beautiful girl with a powerful best friend loses her looks in a scandalous car crash and has to reassess her sense of self--is a good one. And yet for a book that sets itself up to show how wrong it is to value someone (including yourself) for their looks, it sure is obsessed with looks.

There's the whole offensive "Annoying girl's main annoying trait is that she's fat, but then she loses weight and becomes less annoying" thing. There's the "I thought my sister was a loser because she totally does her own thing, but actually, she's so cool that she's hooking up with the super hot guy" subplot. Because of course, sister has no value for being an interesting and confident person unless it's validated by a hot guy. And of course the "I thought I was no longer worthy of the male gaze because my face is disfigured but a BETTER guy came along AFTER the accident, and anyway, I'm not actually disfigured, I just have a tiny patch on my cheek that only I would really care about, and I still have princess hair and a smokin' hot bod." 

Okay, the more I think about it, the more I'm having problems with this. I'm not saying teenagers don't obsess about things like where they sit in the cafeteria and how their mom reacts to their food choices, but why would I want to read about it?

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, helpful reviews. I'm into history, even very scholarly history, but it must be readable or "listenable" since I'm not the dissertation grader! Supet, super, super points on the teen book. Women fought too hard in the late 6ps and 70s to be taken seriously only to have pop culture expect all teens to be sexually hot or not worthy of notice. Well done.


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